A record number of 35 candidates handed in their nominations on Monday for the Nov. 16, Sri Lankan presidential election, though the contest is confined to two main parties, officials said.
Former defence secretary, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa from the main opposition and the ruling party’s Sajith Premadasa are the two main contenders in the poll where 15.9 million people are registered to vote.
The number of candidates surpasses the previous record of 22 contestants in the 2010 poll.
“The extra number of candidates will increase the cost of the elections as well as be a burden on the officials,”Election Commission Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya told journalists.
The estimated cost of the poll was to be 4.5 billion rupees (24.7 million dollars), but with the extra number of candidates the cost is set to rise to 5 billion rupees, he said.
Rajapaksa, the brother of former president Mahinda Rajapaksa, is contesting under the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (People’s Front) party while Premadasa is contesting under a broad alliance known as the New Democratic Front.
Rajapaksa is using security as a slogan in his campaign and has vowed to use his experience in spearheading the military campaign to defeat the Tamil rebels in 2009 to ensure security, which has become an issue after the Easter Sunday bombings earlier this year left 268 dead.
Premadasa, who is the son of former president Ranasinghe Premadasa killed at a May Day rally by a Tamil rebel suicide bomber in 1993, has vowed to improve social welfare.(NAN)